The Gentlemen Is Connected to RocknRolla in Surprising (and Troubling) Ways

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Summary

  • Theo James shines in
    The Gentlemen
    , a thrilling new Netflix series about deceit and family drama. But is
    The Gentlemen
    lifted from someone else’s work?
  • The connection between
    The Gentlemen
    and Guy Ritchie’s past film,
    RocknRolla
    , is evident in similar characters and story elements.
  • Both films highlight power dynamics, chaotic situations, and characters with drug habits in the crime world of England.



Guy Ritchie’s The Gentlemen is one of the most entertaining stories to hit Netflix in quite some time. Actor Theo James plays Eddie Horniman, a former UN officer who now has to take care of his late father’s massive Halstead estate — only to learn that the Glass family is running an equally humongous weed enterprise just below it. This new arrangement introduces some interesting characters like Suzie Glass and Stanley Johnston, who throw our young main character into a whirlwind of lies and deceit.

Even with this new world to traverse, Eddie also has to deal with his drug-using, reckless older brother named Freddy, who has a breakdown when not named the heir. By now, fans of the new show have already come across an interesting piece of trivia that connects this version of The Gentlemen to one of Ritchie’s films from the past with the same name. But what if the inspiration actually goes back farther than that?


The Gentlemen

The Gentlemen

Release Date
March 7, 2024

Seasons
1

Studio
Miramax Television, Moonage Pictures, Toff Guy Films

Creator
Guy Ritchie

Let’s go back in time to a gangster comedy picture that was made in 2008 and stars Gerard Butler, Idris Elba, and Tom Hardy. Holding first place during its entire initial week of release over 15 years ago, RocknRolla is yet another film that was directed and written by Guy Ritchie.


RocknRolla Sets Up The Gentlemen

RocknRolla

RocknRolla

Release Date
September 4, 2008

Runtime
114


When a Russian billionaire by the name of Uri Omovich comes to one of London’s biggest mob bosses (Lenny Cole, played by Tom Wilkinson) in order to curtail all the red tape surrounding the creation of a new soccer stadium, it seems as though everyone wants in on the action. There’s the small-time gang called The Wild Bunch, Uri’s own deceitful accountant named Stella, as well as Lenny’s drug-addicted stepson, Johnny Quid.

Without giving the entire story away (because it is certainly worth a watch), money is stolen, paintings are robbed, and legs are violently broken in different places. However, something has to be said regarding the similarities between these two movies. Just by reading the aforementioned description of RocknRolla, different factions come into play in both films that crave large sums of money. There are characters in the two movies that create chaotic situations because of their drug habits.

But the question remains – was The Gentlemen pieced together by what was already present in RocknRolla? Or what was already created by someone else?


Before diving into more kindred elements that possibly tie these two England-based productions together, it is worth noting that The Gentlemen film itself has been legally accused of plagiarism. A supporting cast member of RocknRolla who pitched a sequel to Ritchie regarding that film is in a legal battle with the director. The actor who played Turbo (Mickey de Hara) alleges that the characters and their unique depictions from his script were copied and used for 2019’s The Gentlemen. Ritchie has mounted a legal defense against the lawsuit, which claims that not only the characters but specific scenes were reproduced.


It’s important to mention that de Hara isn’t a random figure in Ritchie’s life. They became friends in the 1990s when Ritchie got his big break, and cast de Hara in a small role in his classic film, Snatch. After de Hara starred in RocknRolla, he claims that Ritchie wanted him to develop a sequel based on de Hara’s own life experiences, tentatively titled The Real RocknRolla, which was actually teased at the end of RocknRolla. Ritchie allegedly turned down the script, and de Hara says that a substantial portion of it was then used in the script for The Gentlemen. Variety reports:

“De Hara says after the film was released in Jan. 2020 he texted Ritchie to point out the similarities between the two projects, to which Ritchie replied: “Mickey, I and my people have tried to contact you for some years now. There was no response. I am happy for us to sit down and have a chat.”

De Hara denies that Ritchie made any attempt to contact him regarding the project in advance of its release.

“In April 2020, DeHara says he asked Ritchie to give him a writer credit on the film prior to its digital release but both Ritchie and one of his associates said it wouldn’t be possible and instead offered to give him a writing credit on another project that he wasn’t involved in.”


According to the legal filings, Ritchie texted de Hara, writing, “I have a feeling that might be too late Mickey […] I’ll try, but what I can do is get you a credit on something in the future. Let me see what I can do. Honestly, we did try to get hold of you.” De Hara’s lawsuit states that he “has no intention of seeking credit for original work that was not created by him.” While that case is still being disputed, it is interesting to note something said by Henry Cavill in a recent interview for Ritchie’s film, The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare. Cavill said:

If you come up with terrible ideas, you will be made fun of by him and everyone else. The crew are coming up with ideas. But if you come up with great ideas, he’ll either steal them and make them his ideas, or he will praise you, and it’ll become a great thing.


Of course, this was said without any animosity and in the context of Cavill praising Guy Ritchie, so it must be taken with a liberal grain of salt.

Characters and Story Elements Feel Familiar

Besides the simple fact that both RocknRolla and The Gentlemen are set somewhere in England, a much more important distinction is that both productions not only feature a power dynamic between a man and a woman but the woman is shown to be more in tune with how the crime world works too. Suzie Glass provides a kind of how-to and introduction for Eddie to the hidden marijuana plant and everything that comes with it. While Stella and Butler’s character One-Two are a secret item, Stella also leads the way by handing out assignments to One-Two’s The Wild Bunch and slyly controlling the people around her the best she can.


While comparing the characters, it can be argued that the two traumatized sons – Johnny Quid and Freddy – cause the most consequential danger in both movies. Quid steals an important painting from his stepfather that originally belonged to Uri (which starts a chain of events) and Freddy ends up putting all the Hornimans in danger when he does something terrible out of sheer frustration early on in the series. Of course, they’re both drug users, too, which makes these characters even more alike.

If you happen to deconstruct both RocknRolla and The Gentlemen, you will see they have the same type of story construction. Both initially revolve around a large piece of property that groups from both movies want to take advantage of in some way.

Related

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In RocknRolla, the money involved in the speedy and illegitimate construction of a gigantic soccer stadium is the main focus. In The Gentlemen, those same financial prospects are attached to a 15,000-acre estate (and the illegal weed empire that’s growing underneath). Then there’s also the fact that both movies depict most characters belonging to some faction. In the 2008 crime comedy Uri and his goons, The Wild Bunch, Lenny Cole with his right-hand man and his stepson, and Quid with his talent managers.

The 2024 Netflix series includes the Horniman family, the Glass family, Stanley Johnston’s team, the Scouse religious clan, and the Ward travelers (just to name a few). Not only do the characters seem oddly molded from the Butler film, but now plot details and associations are playing with synchronicity as well.


Even though it does, in fact, look like the current version of The Gentlemen was spliced together from RocknRolla’s most well-received aspects, both Guy Ritchie projects should be checked out whenever possible. They are both hits in their own right. Watch this space for more information regarding the lawsuit. The first season of The Gentlemen is now available to stream on Netflix, while RocknRolla has been released on DVD.

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